Each day millions of Americans are impacted by the effects of mental health issues. Mental Health continues to be a rising matter for both adults and children.
Nearly 5 million children in the United States today, suffer from some type of mental illness that significantly impacts their daily life. Over 15% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder.
The exact cause of most mental illnesses remains unknown. Research, however does suggest the development of a mental illness is due primarily to certain contributing factors; none of which are a matter of pure will or self-discipline. Environmental, biological, psychological and genetic factors remain the greatest contributors to any mental health disorder.
The month of May provides us the perfect opportunity to bring awareness to the rising issue of mental health in the United States, and how we as Americans can take the necessary steps to keep our mind and body healthy.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
One of the leading Mental Health Disorders among both children and adults is Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that typically becomes evident within the first few years of life. This disorder makes it challenging, and in some cases impossible, for the person to communicate verbally and/or express emotions with others.
Many symptoms of Autism can be detected in the early stages of life when infants and toddlers are developing their verbal and nonverbal communication. A child may have trouble making eye contact or returning affection. In certain cases, he or she may never speak or may often repeat words and phrases over and over.
This communication barrier becomes even more problematic when a situation occurs where they are in an unfamiliar environment or encounter an emergency situation and are unable to respond to others around them.
There remains no present cure for Autism. However, taking a proactive approach and becoming educated about the condition and possible courses of treatment is critical to a child developing to their fullest potential while living with the disorder
In many instances, emergency responders are unable to communicate with the person depending on the magnitude of their autism. This makes it difficult to bring them home or provide exceptional healthcare treatment in the event of an emergency.
Recognizing Alzheimer’s and Dementia
As with Autism, there remains no present cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia. With these specific mental illnesses, the loss of memory, judgment, and thinking for oneself becomes more problematic as the disease progresses.
We all tend to forget things as we get older, and mild memory loss is common. However, when memory loss worsens and begins to affect the person’s daily life, loved ones often look to understand if Alzheimer’s and/or dementia are coming into play.
Is it Alzheimer’s or just normal aging? Experts identify certain signs of Alzheimer’s disease:
-Asking the same question over and over
-Repeating the same story word for word
-Forgetting how to do normal activities
-Losing the ability to pay bills/balance checkbook
-Relying on someone else to make decisions
-Neglecting hygiene and healthcare needs
-Getting lost in familiar surroundings
Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
There are many ways to take action in preventing the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping the mind and body active decreases the chances of memory loss as we age.
Reading, playing cards, crossword puzzles, and other games may decrease the chances of developing the disease. Regularly putting the brain to work, is important for the mind to stay healthy.
In addition, maintaining a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids may provide some defense against the development of Alzheimer’s.
MedicAlert + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return
One of the greatest fears family members have regarding their loved ones with Alzheimer’s or related dementia is wandering. 60% of individuals with this disease become disoriented and wander. This is great cause for concern with loved ones and caregivers.
When a member is reported missing, MedicAlert Foundation is here to respond immediately. The MedicAlert + Safe Return program is designed to provide wandering assistance and emergency response service to seniors with Alzheimer’s. In addition to our wandering and emergency response service, MedicAlert + Safe Return membership includes a free Alzheimer’s medical ID with enrollment.
Emergency responders and medical professionals are trained to recognize MedicAlert medical IDs.
Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Millions of Americans live with the constant suffering of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This illness can be profoundly challenging for families of those suffering to cope with and accept.
When a person experiences a traumatic event, certain triggers can force them to relive the incident continuously throughout their lifetime. It is important for the person living with PTSD to try and avoid potential triggers that will remind them of their past trauma.
Some symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may include: having nightmares or flashbacks about the event, not being able to express emotions toward others and being easily angered. Feeling on edge can at times become a way of life.
Having a strong support system and seeking counseling is vital to improving quality of life while living with PTSD.
Medical ID Bracelet
Wearing medical jewelry at all times is one way to ensure your loved ones will receive exceptional medical care.
When those with a Mental Illness become disoriented or cannot speak for themselves, allow their Medical ID bracelet to speak for them. Emergency personnel are able to access critical health information through MedicAlert during times of need to ensure proper care and treatment is provided and loved ones are safeguarded during a medical emergency.